Jan 8, 2017

Tips From The Pros: Crowd Strategizing, Part One ...

Regardless of your age, level of experience, or choice of equipment...the number one hassle in surfing is dealing with crowds...

Mat surfers have an edge in that we tend to be non-competitive. For most of us, a lone wolf go out in junk surf is preferable to butting heads with the alpha-males at the local super-spot. And our choice of drug delivery, the humble mat, lends itself to poor quality waves.

So, we're a leg up on the deal to start with.

But what if, for some practical reason, you're going to crack a lineup peppered with a collection of Kelly Slater cultists with a surf mat under your arm? How should you approach it?

Rob from Jacksonville spent this past Tuesday morning in just such a position...and not only did he handle it well, he effectively verbalized it.

To wit:


I surfed the North Side of the Jax Pier Tuesday in 2+’ clean conditions. It was so crowed on the South Side of the pier it looked like there were a couple water polo matches going on at the same time in the line up.

Here's some of the chaos off of Surfline's cam from the South Side that morning...

It was a totally different vibe from my usual spot, but it was the only place was breaking within driving distance. I chose the less crowded North Side.

I said a little prayer, suited up, and blew up the Fatty. As I walked down from the parking lot I was peppered with, "That's not a surf board, that's a raft" comments. I have thick skin, so I just smiled and kept walking. You have to remember this is probably the first time most of these guys and girls have seen a surf mat. I've never even seen another prone rider in the line up!

When I got to the water I felt all eyes on me, being on the North Side of the pier it was less crowded, but there where still about 10 guys in the water with me. I felt something I have never felt before mat surfing, pressure. I paddled out with the stink eye on me strong!

When I reached the line up I was greeted by some groms with stink eyes and some whispering between the four of them. I paddled out a little further than the rest of the lineup ;-)! I waited for a plus size set to roll through and snuck in out back on my first wave! It was a screaming high line right and I got to see those stink eyes look surprised, and those tight lips turn to smiles, as I let out a YEEEEEWWWWWW all the way to the inside!

I respected everyone's position in the lineup, and all the sudden I was just another surfer.

I caught every wave I paddled for, and had some rights so long I had to get out and walk back. The pressure I felt had nothing to do with me, or the other surfers out at the Pier. I felt like that because I was the only one in the water representing mat surfing, and I wanted to represent it well. I was so stoked on the session and had a tremendous amount of fun!

Happy New Year! Keep Spreading the Stoke Paul!

Super Stoked,
Rob Pollard

PS I would have taken some go-pro video but the vibe told me to leave the camera in the car :-)!

1 comment:

tuskedbeast said...

From direct experience I'm solidly of the opinion that we live in a "get out of jail card" period for mat surfing: the surfing public now knows about them, often haven't seen one in the lineup, and might give you a wave just to see one in action.

(off topic and will be incomprehensible when you change your "header" photo, but I'll bet you could write an interesting analysis of what's going on with the three riders in the photo you've got up today)